The dos & don’ts of a pregnancy diet

Published: Wednesday, May 31, 2023
Family Medicine & Obstetrics

During pregnancy, the foods you eat are fueling your body and your baby’s. You want to make sure you’re making healthy choices that provide nutrients to keep your body at its best and to help your baby grow and develop. But where do you start?

Let’s answer one important question right off the bat: How much should you be eating? While your medical provider can offer you guidance about your specific needs, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists offers a general guideline. Those who are pregnant with one baby need around 340 extra calories per day after the first trimester, while someone carrying twins needs about 600 extra calories daily.

What to avoid in a pregnancy diet

Let’s dial in on some foods you should avoid or limit during pregnancy. We know, that’s not the most fun! But certain foods can pose a risk to you and your baby.

During pregnancy, you’ll want to limit your intake of fish containing mercury, along with anything containing caffeine. Choose low-mercury fish options, like canned tuna or salmon, and talk with your medical provider about what’s safe for you caffeine-wise.

While those foods need to be limited, others should be avoided entirely during pregnancy. Steer clear of:

  • Alcohol
  • Raw fish, including shellfish
  • Raw or lightly cooked eggs (or products containing them, like raw cookie dough or some Caesar salad dressings)
  • Raw or uncooked meat, including deli meat
  • Raw sprouts
  • Store-made chicken, egg or tuna salad
  • Unpasteurized products, such as juice, milk or soft cheeses
  • Unwashed, raw fruits and veggies

What to eat in a pregnancy diet

Now that you know what not to eat, what should you eat? All the good stuff!

Fill your plate with lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and dairy products. The fruits and veggies are especially important, since they’re packed with antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients that benefit you and your baby.

Feeling fatigued during pregnancy? Add in an extra dose of whole grains. Bread and other grain-containing products, like cereal, can help give you the energy you need.

Drinking milk and eating foods containing dairy, like cheese or yogurt, can help you get the calcium you need to support your bones and help your baby’s bones grow. You can also get calcium through foods like broccoli and green, leafy vegetables.

Pair that calcium with vitamin D, which is necessary for calcium to be properly absorbed by the body. Some brands of milk are fortified with vitamin D, and you can also find juices and cereals fortified with the nutrient. Fortified foods may also provide you with folic acid, which plays a key role in brain development.

Eating meat, poultry, fish and eggs can help make sure you’re getting enough B-vitamins and iron in your diet. For an added nutritional boost, also include fish as a protein in one or two of your meals each week. Eat eight to 12 ounces weekly of low-mercury options that contain heart- and brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA.

One last thing? Make sure you’re drinking enough water! You may be making frequent trips to the restroom already, but it’s important to stay well-hydrated during pregnancy. Focus on drinking water throughout the day.

Learn More

When you’re in need of OB/GYN care, our team of family medicine OB/GYNs are here to help at Northeast Georgia Physicians Group Family Medicine in Gainesville. In partnership with NGPG OB/GYN, these providers offer you the same expert care you’ve come to trust at NGPG.

Call 770-219-9445 or visit to learn more or schedule an appointment.